Warner Bros. Turns A Kickstarter Success Story Into A Flaming Mess With Proprietary Platforms And DRM

We hate discussing failures. But dishing is a whole nuther thing. Big thanks to Techdirt for giving us the discussion to dish about. (That kinda makes sense, yeah?) Anyway:

by Mike Masnick

veronicamarsfrom the how-not-to-do-it dept

Almost exactly a year ago, we wrote about a rather encouraging development in filmmaking, highlighting the story of Warner Bros. film studio working out a deal with the producer and actors of the popular Veronica Mars TV show, that if they could prove demand for a film via Kickstarter, Warner Bros. would fund the rest of the film. Basically, Warner Bros. had been unconvinced that there was enough demand for a movie to finance it upfront. But, with tools like Kickstarter today, you can prove demand upfront, taking away a big part of the risk. And that’s exactly what happened, as the project raised over the $2 million target very quickly, and eventually brought in $5.7 million. Part of what was interesting about this was it showed how movie studios could actually embrace crowdfunding as well, creating some interesting hybrid models that don’t always involve some studio head deciding what people will and won’t like.

The movie came out last week to very good reviews… but leave it to Warner Bros. to totally muck it up, screw over the goodwill from all those backers and scare people off from such future collaborations. That’s because one of the popular tiers promised supporters that they would get a digital download of the movie within days of it opening. But, of course, this is a major Hollywood studio, and due to their irrational fear of (oh noes!) “piracy” they had to lock things down completely. That means that backers were shunted off to a crappy and inconvenient service owned by Warner Bros called Flixster, which very few people use, and then forced to use Hollywood’s super hyped up but dreadful DRM known as UltraViolet.

The end result? A complete disaster for the film’s biggest fans and supporters:

“My first and last time using Flixster or Ultraviolet,” Jennifer Gottried wrote. “Not happy about what a pain the digital “download” is, but loved the movie!” Carolyn O’Neill said she felt “ripped off,” adding “I will not be supporting anything VMars related in the future, and may never support a similar Kickstarter project again.”

Others labeled Flixster “unreliable,” “crap,” “slow” and “punishing.” There are those who downloaded the movie without a hiccup, and those who did have been effusive in their praise. Yet the majority expressed dismay….

Read it all at Techdirt